Everywhere you look, Donald Trump is looking for a showdown. California has hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to take him on in his battle over sanctuary cities. New York mayor Bill DeBlazio vows that the city's police will not cooperate with Trump's program to round up illegal immigrants. And then there's Trump's battle with the three million facts who didn't vote for him.
But, Michael Den Tandt writes, the big showdown -- the one with China -- is just around the corner:
The U.S. Navy is the guarantor of last resort for international law and international shipping through the South China Sea, worth an estimated US$5-trillion annually. China is attempting to assert a claim over much of that open ocean, contained by its so-called nine-dash line, as well as a group of small islets in the East China Sea in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.
Chinese incursions into territory long claimed by its neighbours have become commonplace in recent years, causing Japan to re-garrison its farthest-flung islands. Regional nerves have been further frayed by the People’s Liberation Army’s rapid building of various regional shoals and reefs into what appear to be air strips and fuel depots.
The administration’s self-stated sine qua non is the resurrection of American manufacturing, which it hopes to bring about by reversing a significant goods trade deficit with Mexico, nearly $60-billion in 2015, and a massive goods trade deficit with China, $366-billion in 2015.
China’s export-driven economy has long relied heavily on access to the U.S. market for steady, rapid growth. But that expansion, formerly in double digits, has slowed in recent years as the Chinese economy matures. This slowdown, which seems irreversible, has been posited by some analysts as the underlying reason for President Xi Jinping’s heavy-handed assertion of control over all aspects of the Chinese state — and Beijing’s new restlessness with regional limitations on its influence. Any dramatic curb in Chinese exports to the United States is likely to exacerbate such pressures.
Trump is spoiling for a fight with China. All indications are that he will get it. The problem is that those who spoil for a fight generally lose it -- to use a Trumpian phrase -- big time.
Image: USNI News